How Best to Save a Neighborhood?
This week the Plain Dealer published a series of guest columns that offer different solutions for neighborhoods impacted by vacant or abandoned homes.
On July 7, Jim Rokakis, a Vice-President with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, wrote How Best to Save a Neighborhood: The Case for Demolition. Rokakis advocates for public funding to demolish homes in neighborhoods pockmarked by foreclosures. He wrote, “As distressed properties come down, adjoining property owners will begin to regain some of the lost equity that this crisis has stripped from them, as multiple studies have proven — and continue to prove — that the demolition of distressed properties increases the value of surrounding properties.”
On July 10, Jeffrey Johnson who represents Cleveland Ward 8 on City Council wrote How Best to Save a Neighborhood: The Case for Rehabilitation. Johnson argues that “property values are higher next to a rehabilitated house than a garden on a restored vacant lot, and nothing helps prevent foreclosures more than the rehabilitation of nearby vacant houses.”
Also on July 10, the Plain Dealer published a Letter to the Editor by Lou Tisler, Executive Director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland, a non-profit organization that partners with private and public sectors to provide assistance to people who want to buy a home, fix or save their home. Tisler argues that Selective demolition is helpful, but foreclosure prevention should be the first priority. Neighborhood stabilization “Should not be seen as an either/or situation in regards to demolition or rehabilitation…. For a family suffering through a job loss or a loan nightmare, staying in the home is the first priority. Northeast Ohio is built on stable communities with affordable and quality housing. In both these situations, home matters.”
Tisler goes on to say that, “Pitting housing counseling agencies against neighborhood revitalizationists against preservationists will produce no winners; we must work together.”